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Christ et Buddha (1880), by Paul Ranson.

The cross and the lotus

The fact that Benedict XVI ended his reign as pope through retirement rather than death makes it somewhat premature to write a retrospective on his time in office. As a great admirer of his, however, I want to comment on one aspect of his work—a global issue on which I think he was in error.

In 2006 Benedict delivered a lecture at Regensburg, Germany, in which he appeared to describe Islam as an evil religion that owed its success to violence and forced conversion. Muslims, naturally, were furious and demanded a retraction. Whatever we think about that furor, media reports ignored another point that Benedict really did make, one which is of far greater significance to Christians. Regensburg should have begun a searching debate about the foundations of Christian theology in a global age.

 

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